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Connected Nation Releases Report on Model Program to Connect Communities to Technology

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Today, Connected Nation is launching a campaign called “Beyond the Divide” to help communities “get connected” to technology and innovative solutions that improve living standards and grow economies. The national non-profit is issuing a report on its community engagement program to highlight the best practices and insights from the dozens of communities currently involved in the program. The report was unveiled at the Telecommunications Industry Association’s 2013 Future of the Network conference in Washington, DC.

There are 90 million Americans who do not have broadband. These excluded individuals and communities risk being deprived of basic needs such as education, employment, commerce, healthcare, and social interaction that increasingly occur through the Internet. Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program aims to give communities a framework for expanding broadband access, adoption, and use at the local level.

“We applaud the communities that are taking a proactive step to incorporate broadband technology into their strategic development plans,” said Connected Nation President & COO Tom Ferree. “Society cannot function without online communications and broadband is a utility essential for strong households, schools, hospitals, and businesses. Connected Nation wants to help more communities go ‘Beyond the Divide’ and take full advantage of the exciting innovations that broadband connectivity affords.”

This week, Governor Branstad of Iowa launched the Connected community program as part of the Connect Every Iowan initiative.

“Last month I announced our initiative to Connect Every Iowan, with the goal of becoming the most connected state in the Midwest. The Connected communities program will help us achieve that goal by allowing towns large and small throughout our state to improve access, adoption, and use of broadband technology. Connect Iowa, an affiliate of Connected Nation, has been an incredible partner in our efforts,” said Branstad.

The collaboration at the local level is helping to create and save jobs in communities that face high unemployment and brain drain. The Connected kick off meeting in Greenwood, SC resulted in uncovering a business that was dangerously close to leaving the community due to lack of connectivity. Progress was quickly achieved by having all the right people in the room and soon after a local provider installed fiber in both plant locations.

“We were not aware of some of the connectivity issues some of our local companies were facing,” said Catalina Valencia, community champion and business development manager for the Greenwood Partnership Alliance. “This process helped us understand what those issues were and establish a plan to start working on solutions. This process has been an eye opener for our community to realize that we cannot take Internet for granted and that we need to work on ensuring that our county is moving forward at the pace of technological advances, especially in terms of broadband availability, in order to remain competitive, and allow our businesses, governments, schools, organizations, communities, and just us as individuals to function more efficiently.”

Being a part of the Connected program is being part of a national network of communities. Connected provides a platform for community-to-community coordination and information sharing. There are more than 165 communities in 7 states currently involved in the program. Seventeen communities have been certified “Connected” and 57 technology action plans have been completed. To learn more about the Connected program download the report or contact program manager Travis Lane at tlane(at)connectednation(dot)org.

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About Connected Nation: Connected Nation is a leading technology organization committed to bringing affordable high-speed Internet and broadband-enabled resources to all Americans. Connected Nation effectively raises the awareness of the value of broadband and related technologies by developing coalitions of influencers and enablers for improving technology access, adoption, and use. Connected Nation works with consumers, community leaders, states, technology providers and foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop and implement technology expansion programs with core competencies centered on a mission to improve digital inclusion for people and places previously underserved or overlooked.

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